Last night, TED announced that the winner of its $1 million prize was Sugata Mitra. Though you may not have heard of him before – unless you regularly watch TED Talks – Mr. Mitra has been changing lives since 1999. That was the year that Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a slum of New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected computer and walked away.
The kids found the computer and started teaching themselves and each other complex information like the English language. Mitra continued his experiment in other slums, adding different complex concepts, like DNA. They found that the children were able to learn various complex ideas, as long as there was an adult standing over their shoulder, marveling what they were doing. That prompted Mitra to allow virtual feedback in the form of “grandmothers” video conferencing with the children from the United Kingdom.
Mr. Mitra received the first-ever $1 million TED award to form the School in the Cloud. The school will be based in a physical building in India, but plans for the school will be open-sourced and children’s learning will be self-directed.
The question now is whether this is the future of learning. So often, much of the conversation about education centers on whether we can elevate low-income students to match the preparation that their high-income peers receive. The School in the Cloud seeks to find out.
The talk can be found below.